Sunday, 11 December 2016



Most fruit bushes and trees have now lost their leaves and are completely dormant so this is a perfect time for the winter pruning. A frosty day is perfect, or if the ground has a covering of snow, this will prevent any surface soil damage.
Apples and pears
Remove branches too close to ground level after getting weighed down with heavy crops, and thin out shoots to keep the centre of the trees
Apple Fiesta
open for good air and light circulation. Remove any over vigorous shoots growing straight upwards and cut back a few other shoots by about a third to maintain a well balanced shape and encourage fruiting spurs. Sometimes a mature pear tree can produce too many spurs resulting in a massive crop of smaller pears, so thin these out if necessary.
With some forms of apple trees growth is controlled by spur pruning, such as with espaliers, fan trained trees, columnar forms and stepovers. Growth is pruned in late summer cutting back side shoots in half, then in winter these are further pruned to a few buds to encourage the formation of fruiting spurs.
Do not prune these in winter otherwise they are liable to infection from the silver leaf fungus disease. Wait till spring for young trees and mid summer for older mature trees.
Try to retain and encourage strong young shoots by removing some old wood every year. Young shoots usually grow lower down on older fruiting branches, so cut these back to the young shoots.
Anna picks #blackcurrant Ben Connan
Any branches that got bent over with heavy crops should be removed as the fruit on these is liable to get soil splashed onto them when it rains.
Red and whitecurrants
These fruit on spurs established on older branches, so retain about ten older branches growing from the crown and cut back by half all young shoots on them in summer and then in winter cut back to just a few buds. Replace older branches over the years from new shoots growing from the crown.
These are best grown on a single clear stem to keep fruiting wood well above ground level, so prune out all low growing shoots as well as some in the centre of the bush, otherwise it can get too crowded making picking a nightmare. Cut back any very long shoots to encourage fruiting spurs.
John prunes autumn fruiting raspberry Polka
Summer fruiting raspberries fruit on six foot tall shoots grown the previous year, so these are retained and last summers fruiting shoots are removed to ground level. Thin out excessive growth to allow spacing of about four inches between shoots after tying in to the top wire with a running knot.
Autumn fruiting raspberries are easier to manage as they fruit on shoots produced in the same year, so everything gets cut to ground level as soon as fruiting has stopped in early winter.
Blackberries are like summer raspberries that fruit on long shoots produced the previous year. Depending on variety these shoots could be very long so they are best trained along wires fixed to a fence or wall or other free standing permanent solid structure. Remove all of the old shoots that have fruited and tie in the new young canes to replace them.

Wee jobs to do this week
Erecting the bird feeders

Now that frosty weather is with us we need to look after our feathered friends, even though they will still return in summer to eat our strawberries, currants, saskatoons and blueberries. I keep replenishing a water dish with clean warm water so it can last a few hours before freezing up again. Once the ground gets frozen birds can struggle to find food although in early winter there is still plenty of berries around. Keep bird feeders topped up regularly all winter.

Art Studio
Back in the art studio I am finishing off another oil painting for my #Lady in Red #art exhibition.


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